Does Anxiety Have An Effect On Physical Illnesses?

Anxiety disorders affects over 20 million of the adult population in the USA alone, worldwide these figures are astronomical and anxiety is becoming more and more prevalent in younger people with many teenagers and even younger children being diagnosed each year. Normal everyday anxiety is natural and acts to help keep us safe from hazards and dangers but when it persists and becomes extreme not only can it damage our state of mind but it can also affect us physically.


Research proves that anxiety and related disorders can takes it’s toll on our bodies and that people with anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for some medical conditions.


Here are 3 chronic conditions known to be aggravated and made worse by an anxiety disorder:


  • Heart Disease – studies have proven that people who suffer from anxiety are twice as likely to have a heart attack or related cardiac problems than those who do not have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is also linked to the development of heart disease and can be a factor in heart attacks suffered by those already with heart disease.


  • Chronic Pulmonary Disease & Asthma – Many studies have found an elevated rate of anxiety symptoms in people who suffer chronic pulmonary disease or asthma with a long term study reporting that people with an anxiety disorder are 6 times more likely to develop respiratory illnesses than people who do not suffer with anxiety.


  • Gastrointestinal Disease : Around 10% of the adult population in theUShave been diagnosed with a gastrointestinal disorder such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also known as IBS. There is ongoing research into the connection between anxiety disorders and irritable bowel syndrome and a recent study in New Zealand has found a definite connection between high anxiety levels and the development of irritable bowel syndrome.


So, from the 3 examples above we can see that an anxiety or stress related disorder can have a significant impact on our physical wellbeing too. There are, obviously many other physical ailments which can be initiated or made worse by high levels of anxiety, our mind and our way of thinking does affect our physical bodies.


It is important therefore to recognise and seek treatment for anxiety or stress related illness as soon as possible, family doctors being the first port of call, they will either prescribe medication or suggest therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy which is proving beneficial in the treatment of anxiety disorders. If necessary they can refer you to a specialist for evaluation and treatment.


© Andrew Tudor Jones